McConnell pushing for ‘grand bargain’ in deficit reduction talks

Will Rahn Senior Editor
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Aides to Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated Thursday evening that he wants the bipartisan deficit-reduction “super committee” to reach a major deal, The Hill reports.

In an about-face from earlier in the week, McConnell reportedly now wants to reach a $4 trillion deficit reduction bargain. Experts say anything less than that is unlikely to make a significant dent in budget shortfalls, although McConnell had been pushing for more modest reductions as recently as a few days ago.

“McConnell has recalculated in the last few days,” one Republican senator told the paper.

The idea of a “grand bargain” is also apparently becoming more popular among Senate Republicans. Many are now convinced President Obama wants the super committee to fail so he can campaign against a “do-nothing Congress” in the 2012 elections.

“I think governing is over for [Obama],” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told the paper. “I think he’s no longer in the governing mode. He’s ’24/7 candidate Obama,’ and he’s going to have to run against something, because he ain’t going to run on his record. He better run against something else”

Also on Thursday, Republican House Speaker John Boehner told reporters the super committee’s plan would likely include new tax revenues.

“I think there is room for revenues,” he said, “but I think there clearly is a limit to the amount of revenues that are available.”

Officially known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the super committee includes 6 Republican and 6 Democratic lawmakers tasked with coming up with an agreement to reduce spending by at least $1.2 trillion in coming years. If that target is not met in an agreement, a series of across-the-board spending cuts, including defense spending, will ensue.

The super committee has until November 23 to devise a plan, at which point it will be sent to the House and Senate for a vote.